John Ottman

Public Access Public Access
(1993)

Score Information

Public Access

Orchestrated and Performed by John Ottman

1. Coming to Brewster
2. First Night
3. To the Library
4. Research
5. A Tidy Room
6. Who is Wrong with Brewster
7. Our Town
8. Wiley's Mind
9. Rachael
10. Very Altruistic/The Mayor
11. Brewster Loves Wiley
12. Habe You Ever Been in Love?
13. The Nightmare
14. Police Call
15. What About You?
16. The Tunnel
17. A Nite Cap
18. Abernathy's Evidence/To the Station
19. The Last Show
20. Public Access Reprise MP3


John's Thoughts

My Old StudioThe birthplace of so many of my "isms" and dark style was my score to Public Access. Before this film, I had been dabbling in composing other short projects of a light and "fluffy" nature. I was editing Public Access and when our composer dropped out of scoring it, I was left to convince Bryan that I was the one, despite my saccharin past, to write the score. The irony is that now, this dark style is what I am known and get hired for. "Wiley's Theme" was dark but had something more to say, perhaps something sad under its black exterior: similar in style to Keyser Soze's theme in Suspects - except more poetic and ironic. So this is where my sordid techniques and orchestrational ideas began. It sounded great on the film, but unfortunately the score was never realized beyond a synthesized rendering. It was sequenced with Proteus modules and a Roland D70 keyboard on a small Roland sequencer before I ever knew what a Macintosh was.

Work is currently underway to revive the score to be performed by a full orchestra as originally envisioned. It will take awhile to prepare, but for me, it will be another loose end to tie up.

Tidbit: After having edited a few 16mm films, such as Lion's Den (Bryan's and my first project together), it was shocking just how much easier 35mm was to handle. The drawback was how much larger my film piles became throughout the house. What a mess. Lion's Den was edited in my house on a flatbed, yet ludicrously it was in a sun room and I could barely see what the hell I was doing. We held onto the flatbed-in-the-living-room tradition (with black plastic on the windows) through Suspects and into Apt Pupil, where I finally jumped into Avid midstream - plastic still on the window. Bryan and I also discovered a strange phenomenon. I had come on as the replacement editor on Public Access (long story) and had nothing to do with the film until that point. By not knowing the actual geography/setup of the sets or locations, I inadvertently solved problems, basically interpreting locations as the audience would. One time Bryan sat in the editing room and exclaimed, "How did you do that!?", and I said, "Do what?" From that point on, I never came to many sets!

There are so many hundreds of tidbits in a film to remember. There were some bona fide disasters to be sure. After filming most of a particular actor's scenes (the character of the teacher, Abernathy), the 300 extras were in place to film the main scene for this character - and the actor never showed, and refused to continue in the film. In the eleventh hour, Larry Maxwell, who had read for the part, came in and aced the scene. There was not enough time to re-film some of the other scenes with the new actor; so this became one of the editing challenges the film, especially since a key scene that involved him was now not part of the filming. Larry Maxwell valiantly saved the film by coming in at the last second and becoming Abernathy, and sadly died of cancer just a couple years after debuted.

Just when I thought we had averted all conceivable disasters and the finished film was in the can, I got a late night call from Bryan telling me his life was over. I thought, "What the hell could have possibly happened to the film? It was done." He had discovered that there was an intermittent flicker problem throughout the entire film because apparently one of the cameras malfunctioned throughout the shoot. This was not detectable to us on a flatbed and I had never attended dailies coming on the project so late. The bottom line is that a new technology was invented for Public Access to solve the problem. Essentially we had to make an optical of the entire film, correcting the flicker problem shot by shot as it came through a machine they created just for this never-before addressed problem. (The process - covered by the film's insurance - cost as much as the film!)

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